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Quashing classification

This is very sad. The Online Computer Library Center, who owns the Dewey Decimal System, is suing the Library Hotel. Apparently one’s not permitted to use the DDC without purchasing a license.

Since Melvil Dewey first published the DDC in 1876, one would think that at least the early editions would have passed out of copyright, but perhaps there’s a wrinkle I don’t understand. It’s still a malicious, nasty lawsuit.

“A person who came to their Web site and looked at the way (the hotel) is promoted and marketed would think they were passing themselves off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification system.”

Yeah, sure. And Al Franken’s book was published by Fox News.


  1. Hm.

    Sure, the average person who went to the hotel would not think that the hotel was passing itself off as connected with the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification, but that’s because the average person would think it absurd on its face that someone owns a system of classification that’s over a century old. But the fact is, the owners of the trademark do provide goods and services under that mark, and… absurd as it sounds, the hotel does seem to be infringing on that mark.

    Is the Dewey Decimal Classification copyrighted? If not, then maybe they could use the classification without mentioning the name, presumably. Another option, which might help in the case of a copyright, would be to revert to the last Classification for which copyright has expired, and bill it as “Melvil Dewey’s Original System” or some other such nonsense.

    The fact is, Online Computer Library Center numbers books, and anybody else in the business of numbering books, be they a hotel, library, or fast-food restaurant, ought to steer clear of Online Computer Library Center’s trademarks.

    That said… What the hell is this?

    u can ask for the defendant’s profits, our view is since we have written to these people three different times, it was certainly intentional and it was certainly

    we have no way of knowing until the discovery takes place how much their profits are

    That’s copy/pasted, so [sic] where appropriate.

    Dewey Decimal Classification is a registered trademark, all rights reserved to its owner, &c.

  2. Ah, touche. OK, I hadn’t thought about the trademark issue.

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